Sunday, 13 October 2019


Autumn time and autumn colours.  The things with which I am involved have started up again.  So now that I am out and about a bit more my iPhone is getting pulled out for the occasional photo of something, invariably, that has lots of colour!

Our Sunday orchestra practices for the children's orchestra have started again... our 20th year.

We practice in a lovely church which, at our recent Sunday afternoon practice, had the remains of their Harvest theme on the floor of the church.

Who have we here but Raggedy Anne!

As we were setting up I asked on of our 12 year old players if he liked the rag doll in the display!  "Rag doll?.... what's a rag doll?" !!!  That kind of says it all about children these days! 

When I related this story to John he added "I was trying to demonstrate to a patient how to use an inhaler.  I said "Just pretend you are blowing on a pea-shooter."   Response:  "What's a pea-shooter?"  !!!

* * * * *  MORE AUTUMN COLOURS * * * * * * * 

Flowers on top of the organ

Our garden: kaffir lily in the afternoon sun

Ross Priory (Loch Lomond)  on a Sunday afternoon

New Kilpatrick cemetery this week. Morning sun in-between heavy showers passing through.  I park my car here every Friday next to the headstones of Mr Weir and family.  In this day and age of ever-changing technology and politics it is nice to see that things are still the same since I was last here!

Sunday, 29 September 2019


We've been in Orkney recently.  The plan was to take pictures for the updating of the Clyde Cruising Club's Sailing Directions for Orkney and Shetland.

Before getting the ferry to Orkney we paid a visit to Dunnet Head to see if we could get a photo of the sea at this most northerly point of the Scottish mainland.
* * * * Dunnet Head Lighthouse * * * * 

* * * * * ORKNEY * * * * * 

Scapa Flow platforms

Eynhallow Sound. Yacht 'Ragna' coming through the tide race.

Stone cairns, Brough of Birsay

Brough of Birsay Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is located on the Brough of Birsay, an uninhabited tidal island off the north west coast of Mainland in Orkney, in the parish of Birsay.

The Norse settled the island 200 years later, in the 9th century, but may have lived peacefully alongside the Picts. It’s still possible to make out the remnants of Norse houses, barns and even a sauna. Later, a small church and monastery were built.

You don't want to get stuck on this island  when the tide comes in... otherwise.... (read the notice).

and further on south on the main island....

Yesenby (west coast looking north)

Thursday, 29 August 2019


Ellie, 4 and a half years old, is quite the woman of the world.  She is very outgoing and chatty.  Here is a photo of her taken recently when the family were on holiday in Amsterdam.... or 'Hampsterdam' as she liked to call it.

She has now started school and along with the other 3 she comes to us on a Tuesday after school to play and have dinner before they are collected by Mairi. We enjoy sitting down with them and hearing about their day.

Here is her place at the table. In the upper right corner there is a coaster which has a picture of The Girl with the Pearl Earring on it.  Mairi brought it back from Amsterdam for me ... the reason being that she attended an extracurricular art class last year in which she painted that exact subject.  And did a very good job too!

Also as part of their trip to The Netherlands they visited the art gallery where the painting by Vermeer was displayed.  

Ellie knew the painting and recognised it. 

She turned to me and said:  "This is my mummy's painting. And do you know that they've got one in Amsterdam exactly the same!"

Thursday, 22 August 2019


A funny thing happened when I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival last week with Ishbel.  While she was browsing in the book tent I sat down at a vacant cafe table in the centre of the tent.  A few minutes later I was joined by a lady about my own age; we got talking (as I am apt to do).

She was Australian and was on holiday. However it turned out she and I both came to the UK when 'doing Europe' in the mid 1960s.  She eventually returned to Australia; I stayed.

When she heard I was from British Columbia she said "Oh I've been to Victoria to visit the B.C. Provincial Museum.  We wanted to see the boat Tilikum but it was not on display.  Her great uncle sailed on her in the early part of the 20th century.

Tilikum?  I'd never heard of her.  Certainly it was a word I hadn't heard in 70 years.  However. I recall that it was the name of a children's 'reading club' which featured in The Vancouver Province newspaper and I had the little silver-coloured totem pole broach to prove it.*

So while Ishbel chose some stories to read I sat and listened to her story of this boat and her uncle's role in her history. 

Once home I found lots about this vessel on the internet.  Excepts are here:

The boat:

"Tilikum was a 38-foot (12 m) dugout canoe that was used in an effort to circumnavigate the globe starting in 1901. The boat was a "Nootkan" (Nuu-chah-nulth) canoe which was already old when she was obtained by captain John Voss in April 1901. 

The boat was built in the early 19th century as a dugout canoe made from a large red cedar log. Tilikum was purchased for $80 in silver from a native woman (Voss describes her as a "siwash") in a transference ceremony allegedly sealed by a bottle of rye whiskey - the name Tilikum means "friend" in Chinook jargon

Apparently, John Voss and his companion in this venture, Norman Luxton, were inspired by the voyage of Joshua Slocum, who sailed the 37-foot (11 m) sloop Spray around the world a few years earlier and wrote a best selling book about his adventures."

Source:  [] 

 * * * * * * 

Luxton was a newspaper man and not an experienced sailor.  They set off from Oak Bay in Victoria in 1901:

"The boat was refitted - reinforced, covered and rigged with sail, 230 square feet (21 m2) in total, and readied for her voyage. Tilikum was sailed out of Oak Bay harbour [Victoria, Canada] on May 20, 1901, captained by Voss and mated by Norman Luxton.  After 10,000 miles (about 16000 km) and five months on the Pacific Ocean, Tilikum struck a reef and Luxton was thrown from the boat. ... The boat limped into harbour at Penrhyn Island in the Cook Islands on 2 September 1901, and Luxton was forced to abandon the trip in Siva, Fiji on 17 October 1901."

At this point it appears that Luxton had fallen out with Voss and gone on ahead to Australia.

The story of her great-uncle:
Source: [] 

His name was Walter Begent and he was taken on as crew in Suva.

"In October 1901 in a bar in Suva he met up with Captain John Voss who was looking for a mate to replace Norman Luxton.  [They] left Suva in the Tilikum bound for Sydney. During the yoyage, Voss claimed that Walter Begent was washed overboard in a storm taking with him the boat's only compass. Norman Luxton, later in a posthumously published biography, accused Voss of throwing Walter (Louis) Begent overboard in a drunken rage."

"In England, Captain Voss was feted for his adventures, and nominated for a Fellowship in the Royal Geographical Society although for unknown reasons he was never elected nor ever officially became a member. The vessel was exhibited at Earls Court, London in 1905 after which it was sold and passed through a number of hands before it was discovered lying derelict on the Thames in 1929. Tilikum was crated and returned to Victoria by freighter where restoration was carried out by the Thermopylae Club. Since 8th June, 1965, the Tilikum has been on display at the Maritime Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada."

* * * * * * * 
And finally ... what became of Norman Luxton?   "After his arrival in Sydney, Luxton said Voss was in the hospital for weeks suffering from exposure and 'sickness he contracted through the women on the islands'. The two erstwhile adventurers made numerous appearances together in Australia, then parted company in Melbourne. Luxton never saw Voss again, and returning to Canada, married, and founded a tourist haberdashery, trading post, and taxidermist shop in Banff. He died in 1962.


* * * * * * * a UK reference  * * * * * * * 

British Museum Photograph from J M Booth Collection


Sign describing a canoe, in front of a building; Beacon Hill Park, Canada. [Victoria]

Gelatin silver print

Source: Old Tillicum’ photographic print British Museum No. Oc,A65.359.  
Credit:  J M Booth**

Curator's comments: The sign in this image reads: " Old Tillicum This dugout canoe under command of Capt. J. C. Voss, F.R.G.S with only one seaman sailed 40,000 miles around the world. The Old Tillicum left Victoria, British Columbia, May 27 1901. Donated to the City of Victoria by Messrs. E.W.E and A. Byford Greenwich Yacht Club London England. Returned to Victoria July 1st 1930 through the efforts of The Victoria & Island Publicity Bureau.
The Club was sponsored by the Vancouver Province newspaper in the 1950s to promote children’s stories from all of the coast cultures. Shaped like a souvenir-shop totem pole, its motto reads, Klahowya Tillicum, which means “Greetings, friend” in Chinook. From "Klahowya Tillicum Coming Home to the Stories and Songs of the West Coast J. Edward Chamberlin, University of Toronto.

** No relation!


Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss by John Claus Voss, Charles E. Lauriat Company, Boston, 1913. First published in Yokohama in 1913 a second edition appeared in London in 1926.

Luxton's Pacific Crossing, by Norman Kenny Luxton, edited by Eleanor G. Luxton, Gray's Publishing Ltd., Sidney, B.C., 1971.

Sunday, 18 August 2019


Ishbel and I enjoyed a day at the Edinburgh Book Festival. She was due to start back at school (second year of secondary school) so this was a day-out treat for both of us.  

We hopped on the direct train from Milngavie to Edinburgh and made straight for Charlotte Square.

As 'festivals' go this one is particularly civilised.  Basically it is a collection of marquees in the middle of a beautiful fenced off square on the west side of Edinburgh.  Entry is free and the folk who go tend to be slightly older, rather on the quiet side and all carry some kind of bags as they are there to buy books. It has a nice feel about it: garden chairs out, boards are laid over the wet grass. The biggest marquee is for the bookstore; the other ones are for lectures going on all day long.

Here is Ishbel having a look at the programme of speakers.  The festival has seriously good authors talking about their books and other topics related to their writing.

As to happened we didn't get tickets for any of the speakers.  Instead we spent a good hour or so browsing and buying and then headed off to George Street for a burger, a wander along Rose Street (old times sake pour moi) and eventually ended up at Waverley Station and the train home.

It was a great day and makes a change from our usual haunt of Waterstones.  (She is not one for trying on ear-rings or buying the latest nail polish.) 

It does me a world of good going out with her; it keeps me up-to-date with the ever-changing technology.  For example, I learned that contactless debit card usage is for up to £30 only.

Thursday, 15 August 2019


In Scotland, school starts mid-August (and there is a week's holiday in October which was traditionally for the tattle-howking).

The big news is that wee Ellie starts school which means the family have now moved out of the baby-toddler-pre-school phase; all 4 are now at school.   No time to celebrate but we just enjoy the photos!

Ellie (4.5 years) starts Primary 1, Har (6 years) starts Primary 2, Alastair (11.75 years) now dressed in jacket and tie starts first year at Secondary School and Ishie (12.75 years) goes into her 2nd year in Secondary School, both at Bearsden Academy  (at the local school).

* * * * * * AND FROM THE ARCHIVES * * * * * * * * * 

Alastair and Mairi heading off to Secondary School when they were in their mid-teens.

Alastair, aged about 6, on his first day at school about 1981.

Ishbel in Primary 1.

Thursday, 4 July 2019


School finished last week.  It's all change for Mairi's family.  Focusing on the 2 youngest: Ellie (4) is finished Nursery and starts school in August.  Harriet (6) goes into Primary 2.

They have been here off and on during the past week.  Here is collection of photos.

Ellie, our fashion diva.   I said to Ellie "Ishbel always says  'Life's boring'... and Alastair always says 'Life's boring' ... and Harriet  always says 'Life's boring' but you never do.  What do you say instead?"      Answer:    "Life's AMAZING!"  

The 2 girls with their choc ices in the garden.

Harriet is a real helper.  She loves to Lend a Hand, is a very 'together' sort of person.

* * * * * IKEA CONQUERED * * * * * 

Knowing that I was to have the 2 of them for a Saturday afternoon which was forecast to be wet I made a bold decision.

Having recently successfully mastered on-line banking and installed some new software for my upgraded (Mac) computer I felt ready to 'graduate' to erecting an Ikea flatpack.

I headed off to our big Glasgow store at Braehead and selected a bookshelf.  Knowing how Harriet loves to erect Lego and having given her a set of Allen keys some time ago,  I reckoned I could buy myself 2 whole hours of absorbed activity.

And I was right! As predicted it was a wet Saturday so with the 2 of them doing the necessary (with me 'supervising' in the nearby chair drinking tea) we managed to get all the bits in the right place with nothing left over.